Supported by SSR Named for a distinguished reproductive biologist, this is the Society’s highest award. It recognizes a career of research and scholarly achievements in the field of reproductive biology. It is not required that the nominee be a member of the Society.
2023 Award Recipient
Bruce D. Murphy, PhD Senior Scientist, Research Center in Reproduction and Fertility (CRRF) University of Montreal
Dr. Bruce D. Murphy is a senior scientist at the Centre de recherche en reproduction et fertilité (CRRF) of the Université de Montréal. He was born in Denver, Colorado, and he earned his BSc and MSc degrees from Colorado State University. He was awarded a PhD in reproductive biology by the University of Saskatchewan. He was then briefly employed at the University of Idaho, before returning to take up a post back at the University of Saskatchewan. There, he founded and served as the Director of the Reproductive Biology Research Unit in the Department Obstetrics and Gynecology, College of Medicine. He was then recruited to the Université de Montréal, where he served as Director of the CRRF and its predecessor, CRRA, from 1991 to 2013. He has held visiting appointments at Cornell University; the Institute of Genetics, Cellular and Molecular Biology, Louis Pasteur University; and the School of Biosciences, University of Melbourne. He founded and served as director from 2008 to 2017 of the Réseau Québécois en Reproduction, a network of 80+ researchers that funds collaborations in reproductive biology across the province. He was founder of the Canadian Consortium in Reproductive Biology and chaired the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute’s Institute of Human Development Advisory Board and Standing Committee in Reproductive Biology. He has devoted much of his career to service for the Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR), including serving as Treasurer from 2000 to 2009, Co-Editor-In-Chief of Biology of Reproduction, 2009–2013, and as President in 2015–2016. Dr. Murphy currently sits on the editorial boards of five journals. His laboratory has been continuously funded for studies of embryo implantation and of ovarian function since he began his career as an independent investigator. He has trained more than 60 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows during his long career as a scientist. Dr. Murphy is the author of more than 260 scientific publications, and he has been plenary and symposium lecturer at numerous international conferences.
Among his recognitions is the Bruce D. Murphy Trainee Fund that was established as an SSR endowment in 2018 through the exceptional kindness and generosity of Dr. Martin Matzuk. Dr. Murphy is a Distinguished Fellow of the SSR (2021), and was recipient of the SSR Distinguished Service Award (2007), the Pfizer Award for Research Excellence (2001), the CFAS Award for Excellence in Reproductive Medicine (2010), the SRB Career Achievement Award (2011), the SSR Trainee-Mentoring Award (2014), and the CRCQ Mentor of the Year Award (2014). He was elected to the Argentine Academy of Agricultural Science, as a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, and is a Laureate of the Fonds du Québec.
Dr. Murphy is most proud and grateful to receive this award and he dedicates it to the many students, postdocs and colleagues and to members of his family who made it possible.
SSR Jansen Distinguished Leadership and Service Award
Supported by SSR This award recognizes a member of the Society who has demonstrated unselfish service and leadership in advancing the discipline of reproductive biology.
2023 Award Recipient
Mark Mirando, PhD National Science Liaison, USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Dr. Mark Mirando currently is National Science Liaison with the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Previously, he served as National Program Leader of Animal Nutrition, Growth and Reproduction with NIFA where he provided leadership for competitive grant programs in animal reproduction and animal growth for over 20 years. He has led or co-led 13 different competitive grant programs and been instrumental in creating 6 of those programs, including an interagency program with the National Institutes of Health (NIH). For the past 10 years, Mark also has served as NIFA’s inaugural Science Coordinator for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). During that time, he has provided overarching coordination of scientific and peer-review integrity, as well as budgetary oversight for USDA’s flagship competitive grant program totaling $4.2 billion of funding appropriated to AFRI since 2013. During his tenure at NIFA, Mark has been responsible for creating or pioneering several important agency-wide initiatives at NIFA. He has been an ardent and steadfast advocate of increasing NIFA support for new investigators, most recently designing and implementing a new opportunity for new investigator seed grants. He has served the Society for the Study of Reproduction in numerous capacities including serving as co-chair of the local arrangements committee for the 50th anniversary annual meeting in Washington DC in 2017 and as member of the local arrangements committee for the 1999 annual meeting in Pullman, Washington.
Before joining NIFA, Dr. Mirando was on the faculty of the Department of Animal Sciences at Washington State University (WSU) from 1990 to 2000 where his research on uterine biology in livestock was supported by competitive grants from the USDA, NIH-NICHD, and the private sector. In addition to instructing the largest undergraduate course in his department for 10 years, Dr. Mirando also mentored 11 graduate students and 3 postdoctoral scholars. His own postdoctoral studies in reproductive biology were performed at the University of Florida under the mentorship of Dr. Fuller Bazer. He received his PhD in 1987 and MS in 1982 from the University of Connecticut in reproductive endocrinology after receiving a BS degree in dairy science from Tennessee Technological University in 1979 and an AS degree in agriculture from Farmingdale State College.
Dr. Mirando previously received a Fellow Award in Administration in 2020 from the American Society of Animal Science (ASAS), the Distinguished Service Award in 2020 from the Department of Animal Sciences at WSU, a USDA REE Under Secretary’s Team Award in 2018, the NIFA Director’s Award for Excellence in Science and Education in 2015, the RM Wade Award for Excellence in Instruction of Agriculture from WSU in 2000, the Young Scientist Award in 1996 from Western Section of ASAS, and a New Investigator Award from the Endocrine Society in 1990.
SSR Virendra B. Mahesh New Investigator Award
Supported by the Virendra B. Mahesh New Investigator Fund This award recognizes an active, Regular Member of the Society for outstanding research completed and published within 12 years after receiving the Ph.D. or other equivalent professional degree.
2023 Award Recipient
Ahmed Balboula, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Division of Animal Sciences University of Missouri
Dr. Balboula graduated from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Mansoura University, Egypt. He conducted his Ph.D. research in Japan (Dr. Masashi Takahashi’s laboratory) funded by a Ph.D. Joint Supervision Scholarship. He did his postdoctoral training in the laboratories of Dr. Richard Schultz (University of Pennsylvania) and Dr. Karen Schindler (Rutgers University). Dr. Balboula then joined the University of Cambridge (Dr. David Glover’s laboratory) in the UK as a Marie Curie Fellow before starting his lab at the University of Missouri in 2019.
Ahmed is interested in the relationship between the fidelity of oocyte meiosis and its impact on human health, agriculture and basic biology. While at the University of Missouri, funded by the NIH, a major research area in the Balboula lab is determining how the spindle is assembled and positioned in the oocyte and how these processes are regulated at the molecular level, shedding light on why oocyte meiosis is highly error-prone. Recently, his lab discovered a novel subset of microtubule organizing centers (termed mcMTOCs) and showed that they play important roles in regulating spindle positioning during oocyte meiosis. They also unveiled the biological significance of initial spindle positioning at the oocyte center and demonstrated that central spindle positioning within the oocyte is critical to protect against aneuploidy. Another major research area in his lab, funded by the USDA, is understanding the role of lysosomal cathepsins during early embryonic development with the aim of developing novel approaches to reduce early embryonic loss.
SSR Research Award
Supported by SSR This award recognizes an active, Regular Member of the Society for outstanding research published during the previous six years.
2023 Award Recipient
Jodi Flaws, PhD Professor, Department of Comparative Biosciences College of Veterinary Medicine University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Jodi A. Flaws is a Professor in Comparative Biosciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She received a B.S. in Biology from St. Xavier University, a M.S. in Biology from Loyola University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in Physiology from the University of Arizona. Following completion of the Ph.D. degree, Dr. Flaws performed postdoctoral research at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland. Following postdoctoral training, Dr. Flaws accepted an Assistant Professor position at the University of Maryland, where she subsequently was promoted to Associate Professor. In 2006, Dr. Flaws accepted a position as Professor of Comparative Biosciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Flaws’ research program is focused on determining the mechanisms by which environmental chemicals affect the development and function of the ovary and female reproductive system. Her research is funded by grants from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. She has published over 300 peer-reviewed papers that have involved extensive participation and authorship by graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, veterinary medical students, and undergraduate students. Dr. Flaws has also served as an Associate Editor for Biology of Reproduction, an Associate Editor for Reproductive Toxicology, and as the Chair of the Cellular, Molecular, Integrative Reproduction Review Panel for the National Institutes of Health. She currently serves as an Associate Editor for Toxicological Sciences, the Journal of Ovarian Research, and the Journal of the Endocrine Society.
Dr. Flaws is the recipient of the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, University of Maryland Student Mentoring Award, the Patricia Sokolove Outstanding Mentor Award, the Dr. Gordon and Mrs. Helen Kruger Research Excellence Award, the Pfizer Animal Health Award for Research Excellence, the University Scholar Award, the 2017 Women in Toxicology Mentoring Award from the Society of Toxicology, and the 2017 Society for the Study of Reproduction Trainee Mentor Award.
SSR Trainee Mentoring Award
Supported by the SSR Trainee Mentoring Fund This award recognizes an active, Regular Member of the Society who as a mentor has had a significant impact on Trainees within the SSR. The Trainee Mentoring Award is intended for individuals who exceed the basic roles of an academic advisor and becomes a mentor to those with whom they interact.
2023 Award Recipient
Carmen Williams, MD, PhD Deputy Chief, Reproductive & Developmental Biology Laboratory National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Dr. Carmen Williams is a Senior Investigator in the Reproductive & Developmental Biology Laboratory at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). She received her M.D. from Duke University School of Medicine in 1986, then completed a Residency in Obstetrics & Gynecology at Pennsylvania Hospital in 1990 and a Fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility at the University of Pennsylvania in 1993. After her clinical training, she went on to complete a Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology in 1997 and subsequent postdoctoral fellowship training under the mentorship of Richard Schultz and Greg Kopf at Penn. She stayed at Penn to become an Assistant Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology in 2000, where she served as an attending physician in the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility while running an active basic research laboratory in the Center for Research on Reproduction & Women’s Health. She moved to NIEHS in 2007, switching her career path entirely away from the clinic to ask basic science questions about the mechanisms underlying the establishment of pregnancy. Her lab focuses on how developmental exposures impact reproductive function in two projects, one centered on calcium signaling during egg activation and the other on female reproductive tract development. Her scientific contributions were recognized by election in 2022 as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
Dr. Williams has supported a wide range of mentees in both the clinical and basic science arenas and across all levels from high school students to junior faculty; these activities resulted in her recognition as the 2015 NIEHS Mentor of the Year. Her involvement in the Frontiers in Reproduction course as a faculty member and then section 2 Director has been incredibly rewarding because of the opportunities to establish meaningful mentoring relationships with so many outstanding reproductive biology trainees. These relationships continue to lead to life-long interactions that enrich the science done and most importantly, the success and personal satisfaction of all involved.
Fuller W. Bazer SSR International Scientist Award
Supported by Fuller W. Bazer, Ph.D. This award recognizes an outstanding International Scientist who has consistently demonstrated excellence in research and graduate education at an institution outside of North America. The individual demonstrates outstanding potential for leading and directing scientific research overseas.
2023 Award Recipient
Hefeng Huang, MD, FRCOG President, The Institute of Reproduction and Development Professor, Fudan University, Shanghai, China
Professor Hefeng Huang received her MD degree from Zhejiang University, School of Medicine in 1982, and additional trainings from the University of Hong Kong in 1992 and the University of Cincinnati in 1998. Professor Huang began her career as a professor of medicine in Zhejiang University and Shanghai Jiaotong University, and she currently resides as a Professor of Medicine and the President of The Institute of Reproduction and Development at Shanghai Fudan University. She also holds a guest professorship at the University of Adelaide, Australia, and the University of Hongkong. As an academic leader, Professor Huang has led many state-funded research programs, including the “973 Science Projects”, the 12th “Five-Year-Plan” in Science and Technology, “863 Research Projects”, and the Center for Basic Research of the Chinese Lab in Embryonic Origin of Health and Disease, sponsored by the Shanghai Municipal Government.
As an obstetrician/gynecologist, Professor Huang has been actively conducting basic, clinical, and translation research for the past thirty years. Her lab research focuses on common problems that affect women’s reproductive health, including infertility, PCOS, gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), etc. She was among the experts who first proposed the concept, which was later termed Developmental Origin of Health and Disease (DoHaD). Her lab was the first to discover a novel mechanism underlying oocyte-mediated intergenerational transmission of an acquired epigenetic phenotype: disruptions of the paternal genome during post-fertilization reprogramming due to insufficiency of the maternal factor, TET3 (Nature, 2022, 605:761). This discovery further proofs the concepts on the gamete origins of adult diseases, which was also first introduced by Professor Huang. Her team was also the first to provide solid experimental evidence showing that despite insulin therapy on mothers with GDM, their offspring remain susceptible to metabolic disorders, especially when exposed to adverse postnatal environments (Diabetes, 2012, 61:1133; 2014, 63:2906; 2019, 68:696). And it was her lab who first demonstrated a previously unsuspected etiology of PCOS. i.e., alternative splicing of AR in GCs can alter the expression of genes related to androgen metabolism and folliculogenesis, thereby resulting in hyperandrogenism and abnormalities in folliculogenesis (PNAS, 2015, 112:4743). Professor Huang and her team has published over 320 papers on such topics in reputable journals and has been a dedicated contributor in the advancement of women’s reproductive health.
In recognition of her contributions to human reproductive science, Professor Huang was elected as an Academician to the Chinese National Academy of Science in 2017. She was also elected as a Fellow Honoris Causa of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of the UK in 2017, a member of the World Academy of Sciences in 2018, and a member of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences in 2019. She has received many academic rewards, including the National Award for the Advancement of Science and Technology in 2021, the highest honor bestowed upon researchers and scientists in China.
Janice Bahr Junior Scientist Travel Award
Supported by Janice M. Bahr, Ph.D. This award recognizes a Regular Member of the Society, an active Assistant Professor or a position of similar rank on the tenure track.
2023 Award Recipient
Diana Monsivais, PhD Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology and Immunology Baylor College of Medicine
Dr. Diana Monsivais is Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology and Immunology at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) where she studies the role of the endometrium in female reproductive diseases such as early pregnancy loss and endometriosis. Dr. Monsivais received a K99/R00 Award from the NICHD and Next Generation Pregnancy Award from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund to study the role of the endometrium in female reproductive health and pregnancy. She obtained her PhD at Northwestern University in the group of Dr. Serdar Bulun, where she characterized the roles of GTPases and kinases in endometriosis. Dr. Monsivais then conducted an IRACDA postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Martin Matzuk at BCM, where she developed genetic mouse models and pregnancy while teaching undergraduates at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, TX.
In her current work, Dr. Monsivais has developed mouse models of early pregnancy loss that demonstrate the convergence of the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling pathway and the hormonal endometrial response during embryo implantation. Ongoing studies in her group combine genetically engineered mice with human translational models to uncover the signaling mechanisms that drive endometrial cell renewal and underpin the biology of early pregnancy loss and endometriosis. Her work focused on endometrial regeneration, stem cells, and endometriosis was recently funded by the NIH. As a member of the graduate faculty at BCM, Diana enjoys teaching and mentoring new scientists in the classroom and in the laboratory.